Trout stream begins to wake up

April 24, 2018 at 10:31 am

Spring shook off its winter chill with a shift of wind from the south and clear skies, that saw temperatures in the high twenties, which had BBQs across the land dusted off and fired up, but I was making plans for a visit to my syndicate trout stream, shielding my eyes from the evening sun, as I headed west.

Arriving after 7 pm, the air was full of flies, but there were no signs of rising trout as I searched known holding areas for fish. Although running high and fast, the river was clear, which gave me some heart to keep casting the gold head Hare’s Ear nymph, expecting at any moment the sudden movement of the leader, that would indicate a take.

Continuing down the bank I almost trod on a well pecked perch of about 12 oz. Could have been a mink, or heron kill. Shame. With mink, heron and crayfish in abundance, fish have an uphill struggle to survive. Twenty years ago the occasional trout taken by a heron would not have been missed, but now invasive species thrive. We are fortunate that there are no cormorants on the river.

Having drawn a blank at another once productive pool, I continued down and saw a rise in a back eddy close to the bank. At last a fish. I didn’t care if it was a dace, chub, or trout, something had risen to one of the many flies lifting off. There was hope yet. I circled away from the bank to come up from behind and waited for a repeat performance. Nothing. This pool has provided three or four trout in a single visit before, but now, as I worked the nymph up the river my enthusiasm waned again. The light was going and returned back to the van seeing no other rises.

Two days later the warm weather had continued and I was back at 5 pm, intending to fish upstream of the road. While pulling on my waders, I saw another syndicate member plodding his way back to the road and waited to pick his brains. It was Richard, who had fished two miles down and back again, most of it wading. He looked shattered. His report was no rising fish, but four trout lost, one chub and a ten inch wild brown, all taken on gold head nymphs. He had a picture of the trout and it looked fat and healthy.

The river looked perfect as I waded up from the bridge, the gravel was clean and bright, offering plenty of deep runs and eddies to cast my gold head Hares Ear into. A black cloud was gathering to my left and brief showers swept across the river, but I continued my routine, wade a yard, cast ten yards, watching the greased leader come back on the retrieve. A few more casts to cover the water in front of me, then wade again. The leader shot upstream! Missed it. My heart jumped. That was a take! Recast to the spot. Nothing. Further up, last year a work party had constructed a water deflector using willow, which was now rooted and sprouting. A deep run had been cut in the gravel by the force of the river and I cast to the side of it. The leader jerked upstream and my rod bent into a fish, not a big one, but the gold flash ahead said it was a trout. It cartwheeled across the surface, then rushed down below me. Only ounces, it powered away, bending the rod until in the net.

More powerful than a roach twice its size, trout like this are proof that the river has the ability to regenerate itself, despite some of the perils that it has faced in recent years, drought, nitrates, predation and poaching. The syndicate have a set program of river improvements and weed planting, that we hope will return it to the form of just a few years ago.

To the west the sun was still bright, but to the south that cloud was drawing closer and a heavy shower forced me from the river back to the road. A rainbow stood out against against the cloud. If I had been a photographer and not a wet angler, I would have paused for that classic shot, but then who but an angler would have there anyway?